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Grass cushion aids ‘howdah’ jumbo’s back

September 20, 2022 08:19 pm | Updated 08:19 pm IST - MYSURU

The grass that is used to make the cushion for supporting the Dasara lead elephant’s back.

The grass that is used to make the cushion for supporting the Dasara lead elephant’s back. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Tusker Abhimanyu’s back is secured from three layers of cushion as it has to carry the 750-kg golden howdah during the Vijayadashami procession. Besides protecting its back, the cushions also help to balance the ‘ambari’ that is tied to its stomach using thick ropes.

The Forest Department takes a lot of care in making the cushion as a particular variety of grass is used to make one layer of cushion. This grass – saccharum – is procured (from Mandya), dried and stuffed into a rectangular shaped gunny bag. The grass measuring around 6 to 7 feet long is chosen and only this type of grass is used to ensure that the cushion remains firm.

In the past, there were people who were stitching the grass cushion but now the forest personnel make cushions for the elephants’ back.

“The bottom cushion is made of grass, the middle layer is made of coir and the top layer of cushion is also made of coir. All put together the total weight from the three layers of cushion is around 160 kilos with the grass cushion alone weighing 125 kg. The cushions help support the tusker’s back,” said Deputy Conservator of Forest-Wildlife V. Karikalan.

He told The Hindu that the grass cushion is made anew every year and the forest personnel procured the grass from Mandya about 20 days. “The cushion is getting ready.”

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